Late last December, I was walking the dog on a really cold and dark evening. The streets were full of the dirty, dog-shitty slush that happens after a brief thaw and the sidewalks were wet. Piles of pissy snow were pushed up on all of the curbs and into yards, sitting like lemony Sno-Cones on the corners. I was wearing about 200 layers with my calf-length North Face coat on top, with a hat, with my hood pulled up over. Coming around the corner near the exit to the el stop nearest my house, I caught sight in my peripheral of someone coming up out of the underground tunnel very quickly. I looked up to see this girl with a wad of fuzzy black hair on top of her head, like the messed up Q-tip that keeps getting shoved around in the bottom corner of the box. She had on glasses with really round, thick lenses, and a ridiculous pair of earmuffs that looked like smiley panda heads. Her hat dangled from her hand, and she didn’t have any gloves on because even though it was 10 degrees and the Chicago wind was cutting everyone else’s face off, it had no effect on her! I pulled down my hood and watched her stomp her way forward up the other side of the street, ramming into bushes and trash cans, lurching ahead like her driving force was in her head and her hips and legs were just dragging along behind.
Ol’ girl was drunk as hell, of course, because this was the season of holiday parties and of Overdoing It being sanctioned and encouraged by your boss and coworkers. The Christmas gift bag in her hand held what was most likely a microwave egg cooker or a wine bottle stopper or some other terrible thing from the White Elephant Grab Bag. I crossed to her side of the street and followed about 15 feet behind, where I could still smell the trail of beer breath in the air behind her. When she dropped the bag for the third time, then leaned to pick it up, then leaned forward too far and lost her balance and slammed her head into an iron fence, I figured I had better help her lest the Rape Zombies catch her stumbling around out there in the dark. She rolled around in the shitty snow and mud for a while, trying to figure out if she was still standing or not, but realized she probably wasn’t when I was standing over her asking if she was okay.
“Yeah!” she said with enthusiasm, like she could vaguely remember what Embarrassed felt like but didn’t really feel it right now but thought maybe there was a reason why she was remembering it in this moment. “Yeah I’m good! I j-just, fell…here.” I helped her up and picked up the Christmas bag out of a puddle. She started to walk away and I came after her with the bag.
“Do you need help?” I asked. She muttered that she had too much to drink at the party. “Oh, well uhh, I live in the neighborhood. I can help you get home.”
“OH MY GOD thank you! SORRY! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I just…at the party…sorry!” She slammed into a tree.
Once I got her face peeled off of the tree bark, the rest of the walk was not half bad. I asked her where she lived and she told me her intersection, only about 2 blocks west of my place. Most of our conversation the rest of the way there was her stumbling and righting herself with her hands against the ground, then apologizing to me and taking off again, leaning into the wind at a right-angle, running a few steps then slamming into the ground and starting the whole apology wheel going again. I kept telling her it was cool, that we all had a little too much every now and then, and that I didn’t mind helping her. The whole time I was thinking how fucking grateful I was that none of my friends or coworkers or loved ones would ever let me roll face-first out into the night like this. At least, that’s what I was standing there thinking at a corner (not her street, but the street where she’d indicated that she wanted to turn by lurching across my path and to the left). I stopped at the intersection to let the cars speed past, and since I don’t have a fucking degree in How The Minds Of Drunk People Work or something, it never occurred to me that cars were no obstacle to my goggle-eyed, fuzzy-headed, drunk ass companion.
Straight into traffic she flew, and the sound of not one, but TWO cars slamming on their brakes, tires screeching on both sides of her, interrupted the otherwise quiet intersection. I held up both hands and said OH FUCK then ran behind her, yelling I’M SORRY to the drivers, who both sat there on either side of the crosswalk, their mouths hanging open. DRUNK, I said, pointing at Drunk Ass’s head, which was fast disappearing up the sidewalk and into the distance. By the time I caught up with her, I had decided against giving her a lecture on why she had to be careful when crossing streets as a drunk person. I was more concerned about the fact that we had turned onto a street that was a good four blocks east of where we should have turned. Thus began the most useless conversation I have ever had in my life (not counting my annual reviews at McDonald’s or the several times I got written up on bogus charges by my former manager at the Puma store):
Me: You know, this isn’t the street you said you live on, okay?
Drunk Ass: I KNOW WHERE I LIVE
Me: Okay well, the address you gave me is that way…
Drunk Ass: I KNOW…*hic*
Me: Let’s turn up here then–
Drunk Ass: …WHERE….L-LIVE!!!
I seriously considered just saying “Fuck it! You’re on your own, genius!” and leaving her stupid ass there on the street. She was frowny and pouty now, wiping her hair out of her face and stomping ahead of me. I was thinking I know this fucking drunk bitch is not giving me attitude. I am being a very fucking helpful person. I can’t tell you how much I really really just wanted to throw her goddamn Christmas sack at her face and tell her that the Bitch Mouth would not be tolerated. But I figured I might feel bad when I read about her cold, dead bloated body in the paper later. So we soldiered on.
We ended up with her smashing her face into the door of a walk-up building about three blocks from her intersection. I righted her again, hoping nobody in the building had heard and would come to check out what the fuck was going on, because I didn’t know how you explain something like this. Oh hi, I was walking my dog, I saw this drunk girl busting her ass all over the street, I’m trying to get her home. I mean, I guess that’s exactly how you would explain it, but for some reason the whole situation seemed so stupid I couldn’t reconcile it in my own head. I tried to lead her away from the building, her oily face-print on the door the only evidence that we’d been there, but she angrily flapped her arm and shook my hand off her shoulder. I backed up a few steps because I figured I wouldn’t like it if some stranger put their hand on me on a dark street, but then again, I WOULDN’T BE FUCKING SLIDING HOME FROM THE BAR ON MY FACE, EITHER. So Drunk Ass pushed me off and steadied herself against the door by pushing her butt up against it then started digging through her bag. “Thisszzz my place I live,” she trailed off, scraping a red, raw hand through the contents of her deep purse, scraping out handfuls of tampons and crumpled CVS receipts and a tiny bottle of Mace onto the ground.
“Uhhhh,” I started. This bitch was going to fucking punch me in the face if I stated the obvious, but she’d somehow gotten increasingly more drunk between where I found her and this doorway, and I couldn’t help but feel as if her parrot-like recitation of her address 10 minutes ago was more of a lucid moment than this one. “You know,” I said, trying to sound positive and light-hearted, as if I was telling her some interesting new fact about digestion I’d just read in a women’s magazine, “you told me you lived at (Street Name 1) and (Street Name 2). That’s just a few blocks that way.”
By now, the entire contents of the purse was on the sidewalk. Drunk Ass was on her hands and knees sorting through the rubble, looking for her keys. They weren’t there. “I KNOW WHERE I LIVE NNNNN….NNNNNIIII LIVE HERE” she shouted, and now she was REALLY mad, like it was just the most natural thing in the world to be sitting in a puddle on the ground in front of an apartment building, flinging your stuff all over the place. Like that’s how everyone finds their keys, DUH. Okay, fine, I thought, maybe she was wrong about her address. Maybe she really does live here. If she does, I have done my duty and I get to go home. I ask her if there is someone we can call to help her, in case she doesn’t have her keys. Then she starts crying because she realizes she has no memory of when or how she lost her phone, as well. So I suggest that maybe her keys are in her coat pocket and by the love of Christ on a fucking cracker, they are in her coat pocket. She glares up at me like I knew they were there the whole time, like maybe I put them there to fuck with her, and begins to jam a key into the lock. It doesn’t fit. Fuck. We are at the wrong building.
Drunk Ass tries again and again, turns the key she’s pretty sure is her front door key every which way, but it won’t fit. She tries every key on her keychain, even one that looks like it’s for a Lisa Frank diary, and none of them work. She is now crying full-steam and splattering tears all over the glass door as she burbled THISSZZ MY HOUSE THOUGH through her wet lips. Once again, I try to suggest that perhaps we should continue our journey down a few more blocks and try her keys on another door, one that is at least closer to her actual address. I start to scoop her soggy belongings into her purse, then hand her the wet bag of crap and pull her raggy ass out of the doorway of the building where she is sprawled, crying, hopeless. She stands there and sniffles for a minute like she doesn’t want to come with me, which is arguably the first smart thing she’s done all night, but now I’m annoyed and cold and I want to get this bitch home and go watch TV. So I hold out her Christmas sack and say, “You want your present?! Come on! This way! You’ll be home soon!” I use the present as bait just to get her moving, and she swiftly forgets it exists and focuses instead on the dog. She reaches down to pat his head, and he winces because her arm and hand are just like this big soggy flap that bonks his nose and pokes him in the eye. He gives her a half-wag of the tail, something he does out of pity and kindness for all of the weirdos who touch him, and she looks up at me, her huge eyes shining like a happy anime bunny, grins ear to ear, and says YOUR DOG IS SO NIIIICE!
The dog. Oh fuck, the dog. This entire time, Dog had been along for this ride through the mind of a drunken idiot. He had jogged into traffic with me, had started and stopped abruptly to keep in step with this girl who, to him, must have just looked like a big blobby thing that screeched uncontrollably and without warning. Each time she had squealed and cried in protest on this little jaunt, Dog had stepped behind me for safety, tilted his head to try and figure out what the fuck this thing was trying to do to us, and why we were letting it. And now he was halfheartedly encouraging Drunk Ass to pet him, as if saying It’s all going to be okay! Just don’t make sounds anymore please.
I used Dog to get Drunk Ass to follow. We chatted about how nice he is, and she started the apologies again. I’m in the middle of telling her not to worry about it for about the fifth time when she veers off into the street again. Thankfully, there are no cars coming this time. We’re almost at the intersection she cited earlier, and she’s running full-force at a building across the street. “Are you sure it’s on that corner?” I call after her, because about five minutes ago she was ready to punch me in the face, insisting that this was her building, this building that was three blocks away and on the opposite side of the street. She doesn’t answer me so I follow her, hoping we’re not going to have a repeat of what happened at the other building. Thankfully, the buzzers on this building are labeled. I ask her for her last name, and it takes a few minutes for her to produce it, because she’s thrown her keys into her purse and is once again digging into that thing like she’s an industrial drill boring into the Earth’s surface, her handflaps scattering crap all over the place. She finally gives me the name and holy shit, the name is present on one of the buzzers. Oh my god, we’ve made it.
I’m scooping up her junk off the sidewalk again and dumping it into her Christmas sack when I notice a figure in a big puffy coat limping down the street toward us. It’s some dude gangster-leaning his way through the intersection, and he seems very interested in what we’re doing, which is me telling Drunk Ass to hurry up and get her key in the fucking door, and Drunk Ass failing repeatedly at getting the key to go into the keyhole, missing every time and scratching the tip of the key off to the side instead. This bitch is FUCKING GIGGLING about this, because her brain is a buoy in a sea of $2 PBRs and she doesn’t notice that this shady motherfucker is about to rob our stupid asses. So this joker rolls up on us and asks us in the most pandering, fake-concerned voice I’ve ever heard, “Are you ladies okayyyyy?”
I instantly resented the implication that *I* was the one with the problem. There’s only room for one Good Samaritan on this crazy train, butthole. Also it’s dark out here! And you’re creepy! So go away!!! God. That’s the thing about living in the city: any little thing that happens attracts at least one bored creep who just wants something to do and cannot imagine that nobody wants him there.
I tell the dude that we’re fine, that this girl just had a little too much to drink but she was home now and everything was fine. By now, Drunk Ass is oblivious to both of us, just focusing on the task of getting a key to go into a keyhole. It’s taking forever, and the guy keeps moving in to stand closer behind us, hovering around, and I can smell his cigarette breath in my face. That’s when he asks if Dog is nice, and I think holy shit he’s asking if the dog is going to bite him if he tries to rob us, so I tell him that he’d better not touch the dog since the dog was unpredictable and had bitten people before. Since nobody ever listens anyway when you ask them not to mess with your dog, nice or not, he did what all the other asshole strangers on the street do and grabbed Dog by the face. He started shaking Dog’s head around in that really rough horseplay way that dudes pet dogs. “COME ON, TOUGH GUY! COME ON!” he started yelling into Dog’s face.
Why are people always doing that shit to dogs? My neighborhood is fucking filled with BEWARE OF DOG signs and pit bulls frothing at the mouth and throwing their body weight against fences if you so much as think about walking down the street. So it doesn’t make sense to me that for every NO SERIOUSLY MY DOG WILL BITE YOU warning, there’s about a hundred dudes who are like “Oh I can beat that dog up, no problem” and go around trying to start fights with them.
Dog generally handles this kind of thing with a little bit of trepidation. He is either too stupid or too nice to call people out when they’re being creepy and annoying, or maybe he’s just willing to lay down his life if it means a murderer might pet him for two seconds before stabbing him. Maybe he’s too good-hearted to believe that people can be murderers? I don’t know, but it’s probably all a symptom of me being nice to him his entire life. Either way, when this guy started mashing the dog’s face around, challenging him to a battle, all the while easing in closer to me and Drunk Ass, I hoped that something inside Dog would snap and he’d protest somehow. Maybe he’d realize that we were being threatened and defend me? Please please please bite this man in the balls, I thought.
Dog is in love. He has never loved anyone as much as he loves this cigarette-smelling man and his big jacket. He is pawing at the guy’s knees while the guy bashes his little furry, empty head around, he is wagging his tail at full speed and trying to get closer so he can lick the guy’s face. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, he is saying, PLEASE DON’T EVER LEAVE THIS CORNER BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. Satisfied that the dog is not a threat and that I was lying to him, the guy straightens up and looks me in the eye. “He ain’t a badass,” the guy says. “He ain’t shit.”
Where I had tried earlier to just wave the guy off, tried to communicate to him with my indifference that he wasn’t invited to this shit storm so he’d hopefully just keep on moving, I was now just going to be a gigantic bitch because Drunk Ass was no closer to figuring out how keys work, and I was not about to get fucked over because of someone else’s Christmas party shenanigans. I narrowed my eyes at the guy and said that we did NOT need any help, and that he could keep going on his way. He stepped back and said dayumm that’s how it’s gonna be huh? I grabbed the keys out of Drunk Ass’s limp hand and jabbed one into the lock. It fucking turned. The door opened. She stumbled in, her happy anime face returning. “Are you okay to get up to your apartment?” I asked her. She nodded and repeated her “thiszzmyhouzz” mantra, the beer stink stronger and more potent now that she was closer to being able to paint her bathroom with her vomit. I handed her the Christmas sack and she thanked me and shut the door. I watched her turn and fall up the stairs a couple of times but I figured she was relatively safe. Now there was the matter of the dude, who was still hovering around me, grabbing for the dog’s leash.
“I don’t think she was drunk,” he said, as I yanked the leash away and dragged the dog along with me. “I think she was crazy.” He punctuated this by pointing his index finger at his head and spinning it around in a circular motion, as if maybe I needed a visual aid to understand the word. I ignored him and pressed on, and he again exclaimed dayumm before FINALLY getting the fucking picture and leaving the scene in a huff.
Sigh. When you’re a man on the street at night talking to women you don’t know, they owe you their time. If they don’t want to stand around and listen to your every thought in the moment, they’re just fucking bitches, man. Also, ALL DOGS THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN YOU AND NEED TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON. A LESSON IN FIGHTING.
I think the moral of this story is that if you come upon a drunk girl on the street and she definitely needs help getting home, you do things this way:
1. Ask her where she lives
2. Punch her in the fucking head until she blacks out and drag her there by the scruff of her neck
This is the path of least resistance, this gets the drunk girl home safe and off your conscience in under 20 minutes. None of this crying on the ground and soggy tampons and flying into a rage because her key won’t fit in the wrong door.
Then again, I’ve never seen that girl again, so I can’t attest to the success rate of either method.